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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Heritage History British Middle Ages Review

Generally, I have a hate-hate relationship with technology.  When I walk into the room, computers break, and cell phones lose their signal. It's bad.  And because of that, I have a dislike of "e products", since they require technology to work.

But then I got a Kindle Fire for my birthday.  And granted, my first one had a hopeless glitch and stopped working after one day, but my second one and I are warming up to each other.  I'm also warming up to the fact that technology is the wave of the future for education.  More and more curriculum is available via "e product", and that number is growing by leaps and bounds each month.  So, with my new e-reader in hand, I decided to embrace the future!
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Heritage History is a "living books" based history curriculum company.  They exclusively offer books published before 1923, and offer them in collections that are related to a specific area and time, such as the British Middle Ages that we reviewed. 
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The British Middle Ages features 55 books, 60+ maps, teaching aids, and a study guide-all on one CD.  Then you pop that CD into your computer, and can fully use any of the books or resources from there.  OR, you can load them onto the e-reader of your choice.  Every file is in PDF and epub and mobi, so they will work on any device.  Although as a company they began by just offering collections of books pulled together by time period, they have expanded most of their offerings to include the study materials (maps, timelines, etc.) and a suggested, very loose schedule for using the materials as potentially a full history curriculum.  While you can purchase the study guide pre-printed separately, the entire contents of it are included on the actual CD, so you can just print what you want to print from there for free if you have access to a printer.

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Included on each CD are several "core" books that can be used to provide background information into each time period and locale, and then a large collection of "recommended reading" adds detail.  All these books are told in narrative form.  They are living books, not stuffy textbooks.  As the Heritage History folks say, "The problem is that comprehensive histories—no matter how well written—introduce dozens of different characters and move along at pace that requires students to remember a great many facts in short order. Although some students can absorb information quickly and may complete a comprehensive history in a short time, others prefer a slower approach, and in most cases, comprehensive histories are not “favorite” history books." 

The books are also color coded by suggested level (elementary, middle, high school) and students are encouraged to use core books at or even below grade level because, " History does not have to be challenging to be worthwhile, and students learn best when they are genuinely engaged." 

The pros:  These CDs hold a treasure of information.  Especially the study guide information that allows you to augment the books with little or no effort.  And with some work on the homeschool instructor's part to put together a daily schedule, these CDs can be a complete curriculum.  The fact that they are formatted in 3 different ways means they are completely usable no matter what device you have.  And the price- $24.99- whether you use it as a full curriculum or just as a supplement to another history curriculum, the price is a bargain.

The cons: If you want a curriculum with lots of paperwork, this is not the full curriculum for you.  If you like everything planned out for you day to day, this is not the full curriculum for you.  If you want a curriculum that focuses on ALL the cultures of a certain time period, this is really not the full curriculum for you.  But that doesn't at all mean that the CDs wouldn't still be of value to you as a supplement to whatever other curriculum you chose to use. 

The bottom line:  I am a history buff, but I wasn't always.  I too used to hate history.  It wasn't until a special teacher decided to show me that history is really a collection of interesting stories that I developed a love for history that shaped my whole future.  Now, using living books like the ones on these CDs, I hope to instill that love info my children as well.  They have enjoyed several of these stories so far, and in the fall when we get to the Middle Ages, I know they will enjoy even more.

To order any of these Heritage History CDs, go HERE.  To see what other members of the Crew had to say, go to the Homeschool Crew blog.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a copy of the British Middle Ages CD for free.  This CD is the only compensation I received and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

CapJaxMathFax Review

As a parent, I have never, not ever, been a fan of flash cards. As a child with a seemingly photographic memory, I loved them. I knew all the answers, and I felt smart when I got each one quickly right. But then the first child God blessed me with was born on the autism spectrum with the inability to memorize anything at an "typical" age. So using flash cards for him would have had the exact opposite effect on him than they had on me. Consequently, we never used them. And then, when his siblings came along, we still didn't use them, because it seemed like a cruel way to underscore the developmental differences between them and their older brother. But the reality is that some learning like math or spelling is based on memorization, and if you can't retain basic information, you can't build on that for higher level thinking. And, while things "click" a little later for him than for others, my eldest can do it...if he tries. Right now, we are at one of those pivotal places in math for him. He HAS to know his facts forward and backward to be able to move on. But he hates to drill, and he's a little stubborn about it. So what's a mom to do?
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Enter CapJaxMathFax. Designed by Jack Fretwell who has a degree in Educational Technology, CapJaxMathFax is a simple but effective way of allowing your student to practice basic math skills in all four orders of operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) from beginning level to mastery. Students progress at their own pace and the program automatically determines objectives for each child to practice, starting out very simply to build confidence. Parents or teachers can monitor progress through a variety of reports, but the program does all the work of generating the questions and providing all the feedback, so the student works completely independently. And it works with any math curriculum.

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Initially, students can "play for practice" and just drill basic math facts.  The goal is to answer them correctly within a specified window of time (the default is 3 seconds, but it can be changed).  You can also practice keyboarding skills so that data entry is not the reason for not succeeding within the time allotted.  If a student takes longer than the 3 seconds, that is totally fine, but they will be rewarded not with "SUPER" as you see above, but with "RIGHT".  Once they are comfortably scoring "SUPER" most of the time, they are ready to begin "play for rating".  When playing for rating, the problems get progressively harder.  Formats are changed up a bit (one problem might read 9 x 6 = in this linear way, while the next is presented horizontally as above).  A T-score of 1000 in each of the 4 operations is the goal.

Positive reinforcement is given as students improve on their own performance:

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Students can earn merit badges for accomplishments:
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The pros:  Remember that child I described at the beginning of this post?  He began his first practice by doing 400 math problems!  Not 400 points worth.  400 problems!  And he routinely asks if he can do CapJaxMathFax instead of doing more of his other math work.  That right there is miraculous.  And I've seen him apply that learning while figuring out problems in his regular math curriculum.  My 7 year old struggling math student has used it too.  She isn't fast, so we just play for practice, but it is developing keyboarding skills and math fact memory in her too.  The program is simple and doesn't get any flashier than the screen shots you see above, which is good for students who have problems with visual clutter.  And the biggest pro is I'm not involved.  I know that may sound "bad", but if you have a child who needs drill work but doesn't want to do it, you know that the mom becomes the "bad guy".  This way, the computer is the "bad guy"...except that it's not because my son will actually willingly DO this.

The cons:  In a generation of children who are entertained from birth with flashy colors and sounds and spectacular animations, this program can seem a little plain.  But it does what it sets out to do, and it's still way more interactive than flash cards.

The bottom line:  CapJaxMathFax is $29.95 for up to 10 users.  You can download it to your computer and start right away.  It only takes a few minutes a day.  In fact, you decide how long or how much practice your child does.  The program does not "cut off", so drills can be as long or short as what works for you.  Based on my experience, I'm glad to have this resource available, and I'd recommend it.  It's definitely made a difference even for ME to know my facts instantaneously without a second thought. 

You can read more about CapJaxMathFax or purchase it HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As  a member of the TOS Crew, I was given access to CapJaxMathFax until the end of the year for the purpose of being able to provide my honest review.  That is the only compensation I received and all opinions expressed are my own.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Days of Theme Park Schooling-Day 5- Universal, Sea World, and Beyond!


Welcome to the last day of our 5 Days of blogging...
For each of the other days, I focused on Theme Park Schooling in a specific park each day.  With over a decade of Disney experience, including teaching educational programs and behind the scenes tours, and with a teaching degree myself, covering the Disney parks was not a stretch for me.  But there are only 4 of them...and 5 days in my blogging challenge!  So I decided on day 5 to give you a small peek into Universal and Sea World, but also tell you HOW to find the information to bring out the educational components each has.
So let me start with the "how" first.  You're planning a trip to a theme park, and you'd like to make the most out of it and even count it as "school" maybe.  But, if you've never been there yourself, how do you know what you'll find and what lessons you could easily extract? 
Well, first start with a MAP.  You have two options.  First, every theme park in the world must have a website in this day and age, and they will all have a park map on that site.  Or, you can just "google" the park's name, followed by the word "map" and you are bound to come up with one.  The actually park website will have the most up to date map, so I'd use that.  Here's one for Universal and for Sea World.  Remember that both of these parks exist in more than one place on the globe, so for my search, I specified "Sea World Orlando".  Remember too that "Universal" can mean Universal Orlando Resort (the whole complex) or Universal Studios (one of two parks they have in Orlando).  Maps will tell you a) what lands or areas the park is divided into and b) what you can find in each of those areas.

Theme parks have a theme...amusement parks just have rides and entertainment.  Find out what the "theme" is.  For Sea World, it's aquatic animals and conservation.  For Universal Studios, it's like being on a studio backlot.  For Islands of Adventure, it's like being on a movie backlot on steroids...or actually entering the movie.  Unfortunately, theme parks want you to experience their themes, not read in depth about them, so you'll get snippets of info on the park's official site.  Luckily, for every park, there are crazy fans who spend their lives gather all the info they can about the parks.  Let Google be your friend, and bring with you a healthy amount of discernment.  Look for the sites that seem to know what they are talking about.  And try to verify by finding the same info in more than one place.  In this age of technology, that doesn't always mean much, since people cut and paste without verifying, but it's a starting place.  For example, the turrets on Cinderella castle can NOT be removed and thrown into Bay Lake in the event of a storm coming.  No matter how many people might say it.  Stick to real educational facts and you should be fine.

For every thrill ride, there will be some website, blog, or just insane amount of fan chatter devoted to it.  Do a little homework before you go and find out a little something about the rides you think you will do.  (Here's a great site that explains the Harry Potter Ride, for example.)  You are not paying almost $90 a person per day to spend all day taking the fun out of the parks by focusing solely on the "smart" stuff.  What you are doing is giving your kids a little more information to build an appreciation for the HOWs and WHYs to pique their interest and get them thinking critically.  Ride Harry Potter, and then ask them, "How do you think they DID that?"  Then explain it briefly.  Study a little roller coaster science before you go so they will appreciate it while you are there.  Then ask the "How'd they do that" question and let they explore more once you get to your hotel or get back home.

Read the signs.  Really.  Most theme parks are really good about having signs or plaques around to help you out.  They will identify everything from the type of flower in that planter to which scene in what movie the car you are looking at was used in.  They don't have to have seen the movie!  All stories have a setting.  You can keep it real simple and just say things like, "See that car over there?  Your grandmother had one of those when she was young." 

There's an app for that.  Or at least there might be.  So if you have a smart phone, check it out.  Some fans, at least for Disney, have compiled information about the parks in apps that you can buy.  I recently bought the Hidden Mickey one.  As apps go, it was the most expensive I've ever bought, but this way I don't have to bring a book with me on our trips to the parks. 

Okay, so on to Universal.
I need to put in my disclaimer now.  We had Universal Orlando passes last year, and spent a year going to these two parks. But I'm a Disney girl at heart, and much of what Universal does just doesn't sit right with me. (As an example, in the Horror make-up show, at one point while talking about latex masks, the male host rips open his shirt, and says, "this is Playtex", and is wearing a zebra striped bra.   I don't want to see a man in a bra. I don't want my kids to see a man in a bra. Call me old fashioned. I also don't want to here the word a** in the preshow of Shrek just because they could get away with it since they are talking about his donkey. And I don't want to here, "Who's down wit OPP" coming from the background music near Men in Black. My standards are higher than that.) So I'm not going to do these parks ride by ride, just highlight a few things.

Universal Studios has the feel of walking around a very tourist filled studio backlot.  It's divided into 6 parts-Production Central, New York, San Franscisco, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone, and Hollywood.
The New York area offers a very low key Twister-Ride it Out attraction that gives a good amount of information about tornadoes and about storm chasers.
In San Franscisco, you will find Disaster!- arguably one of the best educational things going at this park.  The first part of the show features show great effects with your live guide interacting with a projected Christopher Walken that will leave you scratching you head trying to figure out how they did it.  Then they create a number of small disaster scenes using volunteers acting out commands with green screens as their backdrop, and finally, you experience an earthquake on a subway.  As they reset the subway, you view the "movie" you and the volunteers were cast in, and you can see how all those little things can be creatively edited to make special effects in the movies.  It's a great look at how all that works.  (As a funny aside, once you've done this attraction, you will "spot" this earthquake in things you see on TV, like an episode of Bones for example.)
In Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone, Animal Actors on Location would be a good way to show your kids how they train animals to perform for TV and movies...if the show didn't feature an animal bringing a young boy volunteer a BRA on stage in front of everyone.  Not sure what their thing is about the male gender and bras...but that's one show you don't want your sons volunteering for.
In Hollywood, Universal Orlando's Horror Make-up Show would be a nice way to show your older kids how they make people "bleed" or create monsters, but they definitely play up the "scary" and as I mentioned above, there's the whole bra thing...
Finally, in Production Central, there is Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt.  It's a very impressive looking roller coaster, and you can go here to read more about it.  All the usual roller coaster based educational  topics apply ;-).
Islands of Adventure is our favorite park of the two.  In addition to the entry area, there are 6 themed areas, and they really are like walking into a movie.  If there is one thing Universal does well, its theming.   The 6 areas are Seuss Landing,









The Lost Continent, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,

Jurassic Park,












 Toon Lagoon, and Marvel Superhero Island. 

Educationally, you can talk about the theming, and how they captured the settings so well.  From a ride perspective, less is intentionally educational here, but you can always google search the big rides for more information, like the link to Harry Potter above.  I'd say the most impressive rides in terms of technology would be Harry Potter and Spiderman. Oh, and Judge Doom's Fearfall, which is similar to an open air Tower of Terror without the theming. 

And finally, Sea World.
Much like Animal Kingdom at Disney, this is a park that it would be hard NOT to learn at.  They have always been big on education about their animals and about conservation, and it shows everywhere you look in the park.  Even their website is vastly educational.  And they offer several behind the scenes tours that you can pay extra for and get up close animal interactions.  We haven't had Sea World passes for a few years now, but looking at their map makes me want to go back as they have many new things since I was last there.  In a park that's so educational, it's hard to point out specifics, but be sure to go to the Stingray Lagoon and the dolphin nursery (That's a baby on the left below).

And one of my favorite secrets is the Jewels of the Sea Aquarium in the Journey to Atlantis building.  It's not highly visited, but it's so worth it.  Animals literally swim right under your feet and over your head.


And of course, being Sea World, they will have some animals you don't find many other places, like Beluga Whales.

So there you have it!  5 Days of Theme Park Schooling, and hopefully many, many fun and educational trips to theme parks for you and your kids.  Please take my admonishment above to heart.  You want to enjoy the theme parks.  You pay WAY too much money not to.  It's okay just to go there and ride rides.  But it's also okay to redeem the moments a little bit and use the educational aspects that theme parks have to offer to teach you children a little something too.  Like anything in life, finding balance is key!  Sometimes I teach, sometimes I don't.  Always they learn something.  You can't really experience a themed environment and NOT learn something.  So a lot of times, I like to gently direct it.  Theme parks also offer wonderful teaching moments for how to navigate crowds, what to do if you get lost, how to stretch your budget, wise souvenir choices, proper apparel for long days in the sun, proper shoes for long days of walking, the importance of staying hydrated, the importance of sun screen, reading a map, and a million other life lessons with everyday application.  It doesn't have to be taught in a textbook to be important.  For our family, it has also offered chance to talk about what we believe and why...and how that impacts what attractions we choose to enjoy.  It's also spurred conversations about staying cool while staying modest.  There really is no limit to what can be learned through Theme Park Schooling.  I hope you family enjoys it as much as we do.

Please join my fellow Crew members on the 5 Days of Blogging journey too!  Click on the banner below to go to the main post about all the different topics being covered!

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Before her life as homeschool mom, One Blessed Mamma spent over a decade working at Walt Disney World in many capacities including being a facilitator for Disney's Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.) and the Disney Institute/Disney University where she facilitated programs like Backstage Magic, Disney by Design, Disney's Amazing Architecture, Imagineer It, and Yuletide Fantasy. Now, after years of sharing the educational information she learned with her own children, she is sharing with you. Let it whet your child's appetite for learning...and definitely check out Y.E.S. or any of Disney's tour offerings. They offer firsthand experiences you can't get from just reading this blog.
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Go Science DVDs-Library and Educational Services Review

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A few years ago, I was introduced to Library and Educational Services (LES).  LES is a wholesale supplier of wholesome, educational books, DVDs, CDs, and more.  Their prices are outstanding, and their services and shipping have always been wonderful and prompt.  In fact, they are the company that provided us with these Go Science DVDs to review, and I added a few other things to my “cart” (some Drive Thru History DVDs for next year) when they sent me the science DVDs, because their prices just can’t be beat. 
We were offered our choice of 2 out of 6 possible Go Science titles.  Because my kids are older, for the most part, I chose Volumes 3 (Magnetism, Engineering, Electricity, and Design) and 4 (Chemistry, States of Matter, and Life Sciences).  Here’s the “official” scoop on the DVDs.

Even kids who claim an aversion to science will be engaged by the high-energy science demonstrations of Ben Roy! Ben teaches science methods at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is the former director of a science program on television. With this expertise, Ben captivates, motivates, and inspires students to be excited about science, while providing effective instruction based on science phenomena. Each spectacular demonstration of physical or chemical science has a spiritual application and points to our Creator!

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Each DVD is about 45 minutes to an hour long.  The target age range is 6-14.  They each contain individual segments which feature one science experiment each.  For example, Volume 4 has segments entitled “Exploding Bottle”, “Flash Paper”, and “Lycopodium Powder”, just to name a few.  The DVDs were filmed in front of a live audience of enthusiastic children, some of whom serve as volunteers for the experiments.  Mr. Roy finds a way to tie every science discovery into some Biblical truth.  Each segment ends with, “Every time we learn something about science, we learn something about our Creator God.”
The pros:  My youngest child (7) loved these.  Her 10 year old brother liked them too.  The segments are short and engaging.  The experiments are “cool”, like flash paper or lighting up a light bulb via a connection made with salt water.  But the very, very best part of these is the Biblical application.  For example, in the experiment on lycopodium powder, he challenges one helper to grab a watch out of a beaker of water without getting his hand wet.  It’s impossible, as we all know.  But then he covers the water with lycopodium powder and has another helper try.  Her hand gets coated in powder but stays dry!  He uses this to demonstrate how the Bible tells us to be “in the world” (in the water), but not “of the world” (getting wet).  It is a GREAT visual representation of that lesson!
The cons:  My older kids (ages 12 and 14) were disappointed that more of the “how” and “why” parts of the science experiments were not explained.  Yes, flash paper is totally consumed by fire, but how?  What makes an acid an acid?  What makes a base a base?  What is the reacting agent that turned the ammonia purple?  Why does vinegar turn it clear again?  They wanted more information.  They also felt the segments were a bit overacted, especially if you watch several in succession.  And by watching several in a row, you notice that there are definite inconsistencies in the audio levels of some segments verses others!
The bottom line:  I like these videos.  And my youngest daughter wants the whole collection.  I think they’d make amazing tools for churches too.  The idea of using science experiments of explain Biblical truths is creative and powerful.  But I also think the target range is perhaps optimistic, and I would love to see a series of “deeper” science videos that had the same approach with a little more meat (science and spiritual) to them for older kids.
The Go Science videos are available from LES for $47.95 for all 6 DVDs, or $8.97 each.  To order them from LES, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.
Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received 2 Go Science DVDs of my choice to review.  Those free DVDs were the only compensation I received, and all opinions expressed are my own.
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5 Days of Theme Park Schooling-Day 4- Animal Kingdom


Welcome to Disney's Animal Kingdom!  Covering 500 acres, Animal Kingdom features more than 1700 animals from 250 different species. Animal Kingdom is AZA accredited, and the whole park emphasizes the theme of conservation.  While Animal Kingdom is divided into 7 lands, much of the educational value revolves around the animals, and those lessons will be the same no matter where you see critters.  So rather than repeat myself over and over again, let me just cover some of those learning points right now before we go any farther.

As far as the animals go, here are some basic things you can learn about each one:  Where do they live in the world?,  What is their habitat like?, What do they eat?  Are they herbivores or carnivores?  Are they the hunter or the hunted...or both?  (You may need to ask Cast Members for some of this info), In the wild, are their "numbers" good or are they threatened or endangered? What type of animal are they, i.e. mammal, reptile, etc.?  What is their scientific name?  What type of animal are they "related to".  And that's just a short list off the top of my head.

Your child could keep a journal and organize the animals you see by continent or type or meat eaters vs. plant eaters, or any other way you want.  We studied Apologia's Land Animals of the Sixth Day this year, so I let my son take pictures as we travelled the park to put in a photo book for his end of the year record.

Speaking of traveling the park, let's get started!  As you enter Animal Kingdom, you are in the Oasis.  There are animals tucked throughout here if you just poke around.  You just might see a giant ant eater, a cavy, any number of birds, or these guys:

Thankfully, almost every animal you see will either have its own plaque or be listed on a "spotting guide" so they are easy to identify and learn about.


Past the Oasis is Discovery Island.  Discovery Island serves as the "hub" for Animal Kingdom allowing you to travel from area to area without having to walk all the way around the park.  It is home to Animal Kingdom's icon- the Tree of Life.
Standing 145 feet tall, it is carve with the images of over 300 animals.
If you look carefully, you can see a tiger, a bison, and a sea horse.  There are tons of other animals in this photo too.

Tucked in around the Tree of Life are lots more animals just waiting for you to discover them (like the Crowned Crane in the picture of the tree above).  This area is also home to the It's Tough to be a Bug 3D movie and to the first Kid's Discovery Club stop you find when you enter the park.  Like Kidcot at Epcot, this offers a free educational experience for your children and the different areas of the park each feature a stop with different activites to perform before your log book is stamped.

To the left from Discovery Island is Camp Minnie-Mickey, which is home to my favorite Disney show, The Festival of the Lion King.  It is a "theatre in the round" show, so you could discuss how that differs from tradition theatre.  It showcases singers, dancers, tumblers, and floats with "puppetronic" characters on them.  Oh, and a fire twirler.  There's got to be something educational about that, right?

Beyond Camp Minnie-Mickey is Africa, home to Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Pangani Jungle Expedition Trail.  The storyline of the safari carries a heavy anti-poaching message, continuing the conservation theme of the park.  Really both these attractions are about the animals, so here are a few pictures of what you might see.  (Note that on the safari, getting good pictures takes a combination of a steady hand, a back-up of traffic, a good day to see animals, a good camera, a lot of luck, and a willingness to get bruised.  Really.  And the day I took most of these was a good animal day, but I didn't have my "good" camera, so they are a little blurry)

The safari:
Two types of Giraffe-look at the spots to see the difference

Ankole Cattle-their horns are amazing!

The frequently elusive cheetahs

White Rhinos

Elephant mom and her calf

The Jungle Trail:
Fish!

Emperor Scorpians glow under UV light!

dung beetles and their dung ball.

Beautiful birds!

a gerenuk

Meerkat

My 7 year old's hands in the prints of a 6 year old gorilla.



Leaving Africa, you can take a train ride to Rafiki's Planet Watch.  On the train, you can get a "backstage" look at some of the animal areas.  Rafiki's Planet Watch has 2 main areas: Affection Section (a petting yard) and Conservation Station, which offers a look at some of the aspects of animal care like feeding and veternary upkeep, as well as some live animal encounters, some animal cams, AND those 3D sound booths that I wrote about in my post on Hollywood Studios.

Affection Section
Always with a flair for the dramatic, my girls react to a rafflesia plant painted on the walls of Conservation Station.  May that be as close as we ever come to one of those plants!


Leaving Rafiki's Planet Watch the same way you arrived, you can then head to Asia.  On the way, try to catch DiVine.  Perhaps the most elusive of all the Disney performers, we've lucked into her twice.  She's a performance artist who is covered with greenery and can completely blend in to her surroundings.

That's her-the greenery on the right behind TJ

A closer up picture.
You should also catch the Flights of Wonder show.  They feature plenty of birds and it's as educational as it is entertaining.

The next educational stop in Asia is the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  You could start by talking about what exactly a maharajah is.  And then, it's all about the animals. 

On the Trek you can see tigers...


Birds- here's one of those spotting guide I was telling you about.
And also bats, komodo dragons, and much more.

The Kali River Rapids is a white water rafting adventure with a theme that focuses on the evils of deforestation.  This ride and its queue is meticulously themed and offers a beautiful look at Asian temples and old buildings.

 The biggest "draw" in Asia is Expedition Everest.  As with roller coasters in the other parks, there are lots of physics topics that apply.  You could also discuss the yeti and other regional "urban legends".   

Heading out of Asia, you enter the last area of Animal Kingdom- DinoLand U.S.A.  Finding Nemo-The Musical is a Broadway worthy show that features live actors and puppets designed by the same guy who did the puppets for The Lion King on Broadway.  Educationally, you could talk about story telling.  How they condensed a 90 minute movie into a 40 minute show.  What things "stayed" to tell the story, and what elements had to go.  You could also discuss whether having the puppets and people both visible on stage "works" and why or why not.

The rest of DinoLand is themed pretty heavily in, well, dinosaurs.  You can excavate one in The Boneyard (a themed playground), kidnap one on the amazing Dinosaur ride (and encounter plenty of other audio animatronic ones), walk under one in the arcade area.  There are dinos everywhere you go, and that allows for many dino related topics.  Don't miss the chance ride Dinosaur.  It uses Enhanced Motion Vehicles. The technology behind them is incredible.

So that's the whole park!  I hope you enjoyed this look at Theme Park Schooling at Animal Kingdom.  Join me on Friday for a quick look at Universal and Sea World.  And be sure to check out the clickable banner below.  It will take you to a blog where all 65 themes are listed for this Crew Blog Cruise.  There are some really interesting topics being blogged about!

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Before her life as homeschool mom, One Blessed Mamma spent over a decade working at Walt Disney World in many capacities including being a facilitator for Disney's Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.) and the Disney Institute/Disney University where she facilitated programs like Backstage Magic, Disney by Design, Disney's Amazing Architecture, Imagineer It, and Yuletide Fantasy. Now, after years of sharing the educational information she learned with her own children, she is sharing with you. Let it whet your child's appetite for learning...and definitely check out Y.E.S. or any of Disney's tour offerings. They offer firsthand experiences you can't get from just reading this blog.
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